Aicher-Scholl: Sippenhaft

Inge Aicher-Scholl. Sippenhaft: Nachrichten und Botschaften der Familie in der Gestapo-Haft nach der Hinrichtung von Hans und Sophie Scholl. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, 1993.

Let's get the bad part out of the way first. The Scholls were not taken into custody due to Sippenhaft. If you have read or intend to read our White Rose History, Volume II, you'll see that we bought into Inge's inaccuracy. Our references to White Rose friends whose families were taken into custody supposedly under Sippenhaft laws will have to be edited in 2024 or 2025. (Our 2023 digital version will contain the error, with footnote.)

The notion of Sippenhaft - the idea that an entire family bears the guilt for crimes committed by one or more members of that family - had indeed long existed throughout German history. However, it was not codified during the Third Reich until after the July 20, 1944 arrests.

Johannes Salzig pointed to this book by Aicher-Scholl as an example of false interpretation of the concept, noting that what happened with the White Rose "resembled" the later Sippenhaft laws. After July 20, 1944, Sippenhaft was enforced aggressively, albeit still unevenly.

After the war, Gestapo Agent Robert Mohr falsely invoked Sippenhaft to explain his actions, likely to cover his personal, hard-line implementation of the concept that was not law, no doubt drawing on the student-soldiers‘ military status. Postwar, he would claim to have tried to save Robert and Magdalena Scholl. The transcripts clearly show that he initiated the proceedings against them.

For more reading on this topic, see Johannes Salzig. "Sippenhaft als Repressionsmaßnahme des nationalsozialistischen Regimes im Umfeld des 20. Juli 1944." In Der Umgang des Dritten Reiches mit den Feinden des Regimes, Matthew Becker, ed. Berlin: Lit. Verlag Dr. W. Hopf, 2010.

Despite Inge's deep edits and continuing censorship, this book permits a glimpse into the dysfunctional Scholl family that Inge carefully edited out of her other writing. While Robert, Magdalena, and Inge Scholl were imprisoned for a relatively brief time following the executions of Hans and Sophie Scholl, the three family members exchanged secret messages on tiny slips of paper (Kassiber), which friendly prison officials passed along. This book supposedly contains most, if not all, of those Kassiber, along with censored letters written to Werner Scholl or Fritz Hartnagel, mostly by Inge.

Despite Inge's scissors, we learn about:

  • Lilli Holl, Otl Aicher's friend who became close to Alexander Schmorell. We learn from this book that Lilli had often been beaten by BDM/Jungmädel girls. She helped the Scholls during their time of need. Inge seemed oblivious to the fact that Lilli's stories condemned her, Hans, and Sophie for their misdeeds as enthusiastic youth leaders. At least we now know who Lilli was. It's a start.
  • Their mother's insistence on continually referring to Hans and Sophie as die Guten [the good ones], constructing a literal shrine to the two of them in their great apartment on Münsterplatz.
  • Inge's unhealthy relationship with Robert Scholl, her father. A neighbor in Ulm had remarked that Inge seemed more like Robert's wife than did Magdalena ("Lena," who signed her letters and Kassiber with L), his actual wife. Through the years, Inge had accompanied her father to business meetings, to the point that people who did not know the family well assumed she was his wife, not his daughter. (Magdalena Scholl was ten years her husband's senior.) I am not implying incest!, so no flaming. But Inge's words in the Kassiber are often cringeworthy. 
  • Magdalena Scholl delivered Hans Scholl's last loving words to... Josef Söhngen. Inge seemed not to realize that her mother confirmed Söhngen's story about Hans' last words when Inge had strongly implied that Hans' last loving words were for one of his many "girlfriends" (no!).
  • Elisabeth Scholl, who was not arrested with the other three Scholls (so much for Sippenhaft) was deemed a Communist by people in Ulm. Like her brother Werner, Elisabeth frequently associated with the Scheringer family and had been nanny for their little boy. When Ulmers spoke about the Kommunistin who was a Scholl, they referred to Elisabeth, not Sophie.
  • The privileges that the Scholls were still granted, even the ones who were in prison, because of their friends in very high places. Whether transmittal of Kassiber, or delivery of newspapers, or acquisition of toiletries, the Scholls did not endure the same indignities that most other families in (regular) prison suffered. Inge even sent their laundry home to Elisabeth to be ironed!
  • The Scholls' strong connections to prominent Nazis. In a letter dated September 6, 1943 from Inge to her father, after describing a short visit from Fritz Hartnagel (by then, only Robert Scholl was still in prison), Inge told her father about a discussion in their home on Münsterplatz with two of his very good friends: Mr. Rau and Mr. Mussgay... whom Inge described as friends of her father from his days studying business administration in Stuttgart (before 1932).

If you want to take a minute to Google, please feel free. There is not much available on Mr. Rau. Inge said he was a Beamter, a civil servant of the NSDAP.

But there is a lot available on Mr. Mussgay. Inge: "Father and Grimminger [fellow classmate of Robert Scholl, and White Rose financier] sat in prison, Rau was a blameless Beamter, and Mussgay had managed to become chief of the Gestapo in Württemberg. In this powerful position, he clearly did not have the courage to intercede on behalf of father for the two months he was serving in prison to make up for his early release [in 1942]. Later we learned that Mussgay hanged himself."

This is one of those rabbits, that - when you take the time to chase it down its rabbit hole - rips the bandage off the carefully tended wounds that made up the Scholl family. Robert Scholl's close friendship with Paul Friedrich Mussgay explains so very much, and yet opens up a cellar full of dark questions.

Guess who was head of the Gestapo in Stuttgart when Hans Scholl was let off the hook for his pedophilia conviction in 1938? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay. [The Judge - Cuhorst - was also a close friend of Robert Scholl. It's disgusting to read his verdict, blaming the young victim, absolving Hans Scholl by saying the victim must have wanted it.]

Guess who was in charge of the November 1941 decree and deportation of German-Jewish citizens of Stuttgart, that resulted in the execution of Jenny Grimminger's family in Riga? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay.

Guess who was one of the earliest members of the SS (April 1933), and early member of the NSDAP (May 1933)? Guess whose nickname was "Communist catcher"? Guess who was classified as SS-Hauptsturmführer (1938)? Guess who ensured that Himmler's laws were strictly obeyed and followed in Württemberg? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay.

Guess who ordered the construction of the "mobile gallows" in Stuttgart that Dr. Armin Ziegler well portrayed in his biography of Eugen Grimminger? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay.

Guess who personally attended the execution of Polish forced laborers who dared break his laws? (Does this explain the Scholl silence about the German girl who was shorn and put in stocks very near their home, for the "crime" of having slept with a Polish forced laborer? Where is her face? And does this explain Inge's inclusion of great detail about a Polish prisoner her family "helped" in 1943?) And of course, yes. That would have been Friedrich Mussgay.

Guess who was head of the Gestapo in all of Württemberg in 1943? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay. 

Guess who used his powerful position during the last eighteen months of the war to arrest Jewish spouses of "Aryans," ensuring they died in concentration camps? Guess who tried to ferret out anyone with the least bit of Communist leaning, proven or unproven? Guess who searched for anyone whose activities or mindsets could be remotely construed as "resistance to the Reich" and had them executed? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay.

Guess who the Americans put on their most-wanted list in September 1944 as potential war criminal? Guess who fled Stuttgart once the American army got close? Guess who hanged himself in his cell in 1946 so he would not have to stand trial for his war crimes? Yes. Friedrich Mussgay.

The same Friedrich Mussgay who stood in the Scholls' living room in September 1943 and advised Magdalena and Inge that Robert Scholl would have to serve out the remaining two months of his 1942 sentence. The same Friedrich Mussgay whom Inge described as not having enough courage to intercede on her father's behalf.

I am grateful that Inge Aicher-Scholl let this dribble of reality out into the world. I am beyond grateful that S. Fischer Verlag had the guts to publish it. I'm happy too that I read this book in 1995  and entered every word in our database before writing the White Rose histories. Although the letters and Kassiber are from February 1943 on, they frequently referenced events that took place when "the good ones" were still alive.

But this is not enough. The same book needs to be released without Inge's censorship. The Scholl Archives must be forced open. Inge and Robert Scholl may not be permitted to continue to hide behind the aprons of Hans and Sophie Scholl.

For historians ever to understand how the Shoah happened, we must stop dealing in fairy tales and mythology. We MUST stop enabling writers pretending to be historians who sell their academic souls for 30 pieces of silver.

Oh, and Mussgay was not the only high-ranking Nazi who enjoyed Robert Scholl's close friendship. We also learn that in July 1943, old friend, pal, good buddy Ferdinand Dietrich visited his friends in Ulm.

When Thomas Hartnagel released the edition of correspondence between his father Fritz Hartnagel and Sophie Scholl, we finally learned who Ferdinand Dietrich was: Kreisleiter [County Director] of the NSDAP in Öhringen. In 1942 as Robert Scholl prepared to face a short prison term, Fritz Hartnagel suggested the Scholls contact Dietrich for assistance. Surely Dietrich could get the sentence commuted!

Dietrich was not only county director of the NSDAP. He had also led the 1933 charge to rid Öhringen of all Jewish influence. He published a leaflet entitled Zur Abwehr. Greueltaten der Öhringener Juden. Oder, Was die Weltpresse verschweigt! [In Defense. Atrocities of the Jews in Öhringen. Or, What the World Press Conceals!]

Dietrich didn't just engage in race-baiting. As a medical doctor, he volunteered his time as committee member of the Erbgesundheitsgericht, the court that was in charge of Nazi genetic policy. Dietrich did not abandon his "useless" eater ideology even after the war. He spoke about the ill effects of "useless eaters" on his town in 1948.

Robert Scholl granted Ferdinand Dietrich a Persilschein after the war. Correction: They mutually granted one another Persilscheine. Most witnesses during denazification hearings described Dietrich as vicious, cruel.

That man too stood in the Scholls' living room, July 1943, offering the family financial and personal assistance. 

Convinced yet?

© 2023 Denise Heap. Please contact Exclamation! Publishers for permission to quote.